Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, why are we so special?
Why can we, as humans, decide that a dog is different from us—that it is a pet. And why can I say that I want to take this dog, train it and keep it as my own possession for the remainder of its life?
One reason may be our own arrogance,
believing that we are the highest element of the pyramid, the toughest of the tough and the best of the best, and therefore, should be able to have control over whatever we please to.
Many times though, animals aren’t the only ones questioned to be “inhuman,” and that natural human’s arrogance can spread a little too far. In fact, there are numerous cases in which humans are questioned in their rights to actually be labeled as human.
Ahmed Towfik’s futuristic novel, Utopia, is a great example of this crossing of that line of what makes us human. From the very beginning of part one’s title “Predator,” it was made clear that there was going to be some strong form of hierarchy as the story progressed, and evidently, there was. The story moves between the two ideas of “predator” versus “prey,” symbolizing the dominant and lesser cultures within.
Though “Gaber” is one of the more compassionate characters within the novel, he and the people surrounding him are often times described in a rather animalistic way. For instance, his hair is described as being “matted,” a term usually used when discussing an animal’s fur. In this scene, his sister is referred to as being “an animal with consumption” (Towfik, 97). Then, Towfik writes, “In spite of all of that, he walked like a human being and talked like a human being…he didn’t throw himself at my feet begging me to cut his arm off” loosely tying him back to humanity, though the term “begging” is still one that is alluding to a dog (Towfik, 97). From this, it’s pretty clear how belittled Gaber’s character is from the narrator’s.
Why do all this, one may ask? Why doesn’t Towfik just state that the poor are seen as a much lesser people than the wealthy are?
Well, aside from every writer’s natural giddiness for seeing how many symbols and allusions they can fit into a text, there’s also an admiration for making the reader stop and think: hey, what could the author have meant by that?
Every writer has their own goal for why they write their stories in the way that they do. Towfik’s may have been to make the reader pause and see the similarities of our own people in our own world; to find those overlapping images and hierarchy behaviors and patterns. In doing this—making us stop and think—who knows? Maybe we could come up with some suggestions to better and change our own ways of living.
After all, we’re all human—for richer, for poorer, with light-skinned or not—we all deserve to be treated on the same playing field as one another.